Though comedy films of the 1990s may seem like they were strictly vehicles for comedians such as Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, and Mike Myers, the decade offered much more. The comedy genre, even in the 1990s, has always been very diverse.
As was the case with American cinema in general, the advent of small-budget, independent films in the 1990s helped push comedy movies in a more creative direction, as filmmakers were more willing to take risks with their work. The result was a decade of movies vastly differing in their creative approach but sharing one important ingredient – a good sense of humor.
24/7 Wall St. determined the best comedies of the decade by creating an index based on user ratings from the Internet Movie Database and Rotten Tomatoes.
As is the case with Hollywood in every decade, there were a number of hugely successful, big budget comedy movies in the 1990s. Columbia Pictures’ “Men in Black” and Walt Disney Studios’ “Toy Story 2” each cost $90 million to produce and grossed over $245 million in the U.S. alone.
While even successful comedies didn’t gross quite as much as other Hollywood blockbusters in other genres of the 1990s, the decade is notable for the number of independently produced, memorable micro-budget films. Among titles on our list are “Bottle Rocket,” “Slacker,” and “Clerks.” As our list is based on audience and critic ratings, the inclusion of such movies demonstrates that moviegoers often prefer smaller indie fare to huge Hollywood productions.
The directors of these three films – Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, and Kevin Smith, respectively – all went on to direct movies with bigger budgets, at least one of which for each filmmaker also appears on our list. The 1990s helped establish this now common trend in filmmaking of starting with small budget movies before getting to direct bigger budget movies, somewhat similar to minor league athletes being pulled up to the majors.